Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park:

The northwestern region of California rivals Yosemite in its attractions. When you visit it for the first time, you will naturally be most interested in seeing the ancient, towering redwoods, certainly one of the greatest nature displays in the world.

There are two ways to get to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Our favorite, the one we took recently, starts just south of Crescent City with a left turn off Hwy. 101 to Humboldt Road. Go north one mile to reach Howland Hill Road which then for 9.9 miles follows the course of an old wagon road. The scenery is breathtaking. The redwoods humongous. Bring your camera and a picnic lunch.

Wend your leisurely way to Hwy. 199, turn left, and follow the road to Highway 101. From here it's less than 4 miles to Crescent City to your left, or about 10 miles to the Oregon border to your right.

All about the Redwoods:
Redwoods have been around a long time--tens of million years according to the best evidence. Titans of the plant world, they succeeded the big boys of the animal kingdom, the dinosaurs, after the great reptiles mysteriously faded from the scene. Then, about two million years ago, the huge trees nearly followed the dinosaurs into extinction; the last of the great ice ages swept down from the polar regions, covering much of Europe and North America and driving the redwoods from most of their former home. When the glaciers finally receded, the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) found itself occupying only a narrow strip of land near the western coast of North America. Of a dozen or so related species, just two had survived: the giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) which grew in scattered groves in the Sierra Nevada of California, and the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), confined to a few small areas in remotest China.

Two species of Redwoods in California:
Two species of sequoias that both occur in California are often indiscriminately dubbed "redwoods". Both species are red or, rather, pink wood when first exposed to the air, later turning to maroon brown.

The larger of the species, the Big Tree (Sequoia gigantea), occurs only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada from the American River on the north to Deer Creek on the south, and between elevations roughly of 4,000 to 8,500 feet.

The Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) occurs in the Coast Range of California only as far south as Monterey and always within the coastal belt of sea fogs.

The non-technical distinctions between the species are that the Coast Redwood stumps sprouts, while the Big Tree reproduces only from seed; that the Redwood attains a maximum diameter above the root swelling of about sixteen feet, while the Big Tree reaches twenty-five or even thirty feet; that the Redwood is taller, more graceful and occurs in heavy forest stands, while the Big Tree is larger in diameter, of richer color, and occurs usually in isolated groves. The chief characteristic of the Redwood is grace; that of the Big Tree is majesty.

Coast Redwoods:
Coast redwood has withstood many fires and many floods. Old-growth redwood trees show many scars from these natural disasters. The majority of old-growth redwoods are now confined to parks set aside years ago by people with foresight. They believed that future generations should have a chance to stand among these majestic trees.

Redwood root structure: The fallen redwood has exposed its root system Redwoods have no tap root. Instead, the supporting roots penetrate outward. Because of the shallow subsurface roots, redwoods are highly dependant on the thin upper layers of the forest floor for their support and nourishment.

Redwood bark: The bark is one of the reasons redwoods live for such a long time - routinely runs to 500 years up to 2,000 years. Redwood bark is thick and asbestos-like, which keeps the cambium layer from burning during forest fires. Scars seen today could b hundreds of years old.

Water-drawing ability: Engineers are impessed with the tree's water-drawing ability, since it is no mean feat for an organism to transport vast amounts of moisture up a 300-foot trunk and then transpire the wetness into the atmosphere at the rate of 500 gallons per day.

Quality of wood: Redwood not only resists fire and rot, but also works easily, insulates well, is good at taking paint and stain, and often contains beautiful grains and figures.


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